Discovering Provence with Decouvertes

Decouvertes made 7 of his top seller Travel Agents for a lovely pre-ILTM tour. We wanted to relax before ILTM, enjoy to be together, know each other better and discover off-the-beaten-path places.
We wanted to show you the places we loved in Provence and the Riviera.
So, what was the experience of the pretour? Take a glimpse of those 4 days of fun and information.

A One-Michelin Star Restaurant at the Intercontinental Marseille

I was waiting at the airport, wondering what John Galante would be like. I mean, I had already seen his photo on Virtuoso.com, but would he be nice, demanding, strong-headed ?
When I first saw his face and large smile, I knew all would go smoothly ! I greeted him and rushed him in the Renault Espace.
‘Have you driven this car before ?’
‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘my first time was yesterday !’ He smiled.

In the morning, we visited Notre Dame de la Garde, a Cathedral at the top of a rocky peak, overlooking the City of Marseilles, second biggest city in France. We then visited a small and busy district of Marseille, le Panier. The narrow and hilly streets give it a village feel, with people from all origins speaking together.
Then, we visited the Intercontinental Hotel, with our friend Elodie. The location is great and the atmosphere is very cosy. In some rooms, you can even have a bath while enjoying the breathtaking view on Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.

Afterwards, Emmy and Bertrand joined us for lunch at the Brasserie. The Mayor of Marseille was even having lunch next to us ! the œufs pochés by their One-Michelin Star Chef were to die for.
In the Afternoon, we drove to the Domaine de Manville, next to Les Baux de Provence. Florence showed us a lovely property, complete with suites, villas and even a kids’ club ! In the gorgeous surrounding domain – in the midst of vineyards and dominated by the rocky chain of Les Alpilles – you can even play golf.
We then had High Tea by the fire in the beautiful cosy cafe and Raenette had there a first Pastis in Provence ever!

In the evening, the nine of us had dinner at La Villa Beaulieu, Berangere’s unique and incredible Château in the midst of vineyards. Raenette loved its ‘beauty and warmth’. That really was her favorite place for the whole week-end. Lina, a Travel Advisor and Stephanie, a guide at Decouvertes joined us around a traditionnal French Dinner.
Everyone discovered his/her room and we all had great fun discovering the property.

Villa Beaulieu, a travel agents’ favorite

After a good night’s sleep, we had breakfast at Villa Beaulieu, with all the traditional treats of a French Breakfast : biscuits, croissant, brioche and even homemade marmelade.
Later on, we had a walking tour in the charming narrow streets of Aix-en-Provence.
We tasted a Choux à la Crème (puffed pastry filled with cream) at Monsieur Chou.
Then, we did a quick visit at the Hotel Caumont, great exhibition place in the historic center of Aix en Provence, inviting us to discover the great Art Masters of History in a recently renovated Town Mansion.
Rue d’Italie, we then tasted cheese at Aix’s best cheese shop and discovered a jam store, where each trave advisor could choose his/her favorite flavor. We ended at the open-air market, full of colors, smells and sounds of French people selling all one could eat in early winter.

For lunch, we visited the Villa Gallici in Aix-en-Provence. This hotel has the feel of a lovely villa, with baroque and rococco. The lunch at the Hotel’s restaurant was incredible. Foie Gras, maigre fish and sweet apple dessert made a very complete mediterranean menu, full of different tastes that went very well together.

In the afternoon, the whole group went for a 4WD wine safari around the domain and a very instructive wine tasting in the cellar with David and Berangere.
For dinner, the group had aperitif grand salon and had small talk in a beautiful Private Salon bibliotheque herbal tea  vin villa beaulieu which is usually closed and was open especially for the group.

Abbaye de la Celle, an Oasis of Calm

In the morning, we drove to the Abbaye de la Celle. This Provencal mas, in the middle of the countryside, though quite close to the main road is an oasis of calm. Charlotte showed us around the property. Rooms are very soothing yet warm, with beamed ceilings and lovely tiled floor.

We drove to Grasse in the afternoon, where we had a great perfume workshop with  Claire. I have been able to create a perfume with fragrances of. John had lots of fun and called his home fragrance Pledge. Everyone passed their perfume exam. They even got a certificate !

The Saint Paul, feeling like home

Night had fallen when we arrived in the Saint Paul, where we discovered a lovely property that opened just for us. We were welcomed with a glass of Champagne. The hotel had a very comfortable feeling, one of being at someone else’s but still feeling home. The deep carpets, heavy curtains and made us feel very welcome.
We had then a wine tasting with Romain, which was a lot of fun. We learnt a lot, drinking amazing vintage wines and Champagne.

Château St Martin & Spa, a château with a view

We drove in the morning to Château St Martin & Spa. We visited the incredible huge cellars full of vintage wines. The view from the Château is just breathtaking.
We then visited the Maeght Foundationwith our guide Cecilia. Everything there is beautiful and we all thought the place would just be great for kids.

We ended this great week-end by a drop-off in Cannes.

In the end, our top-sellers had a lovely week-end, discovering breathtaking hotels and real French people in Provence and the Riviera. The weather was great and we created a strong relationship with seven different agencies.
So, who will come with us next ?

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